The Coffee Plant Varietal
There are 25 major species within the Coffea genus (the coffee plant). Although indigenous to the Kaffa region of Ethiopia, coffee plants are now cultivated in more than 70 countries, primarily in the equatorial regions, as they grow in tropical and sub-tropical regions. They range in size from small shrubs to trees. The coffee plants produce white flowers and red berries (cherries) that contain seeds. These seeds are the "beans" from which the coffee beverage is made. Of the 25 species, only 2 are commercialized: Robusta (canephora) and Arabica.
The Coffee Origin
Knowing the origin of the coffee beans helps assessing its characteristics. The country, region, and cultivation altitude play an important role in the crop. Coffee grows in about 75 sunny countries situated in the equatorial belt, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Most notable countries producing coffee are: Ethiopia, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Yemen, Indonesia, Vietnam, Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Hawaii, and Mexico.
Low elevation coffee plantations are easier and more efficient to farm, suited for mass production, but beans can over-ripen if they receive too much moisture. Robusta is mostly grown in Southeast Asia and West Africa. Robusta grows in lower elevations, from sea level to 700m, prefers higher temperatures (24C–30C), and more rainfall. Arabica is mostly grown in South and Central America and in Central and East Africa. Arabica grows best in shade (15C-24C), at higher elevations of 1000m-2000m.
Continue to harvesting and processing the coffee →